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Dec 28, 2008 06:12 AM

Your favorite inexpensive, spicy meals?

I'm expecting my first baby any day now (or in a few weeks, who knows?), and since I'm not feeling much like cooking, and this feels like our last chance to dine out for a while, DH and I have been going out for lunch the last few days and will probably continue to until the baby arrives. The problem is that we normally prefer to cook at home, so we're fairly clueless about restaurants beyond our immediate neighborhood.

I'm hoping you all can share some of your favorite inexpensive spicy meals as inspiration for us. (The inexpensive part is because this baby is already stretching our budget. The spicy part is to help induce labor, plus it just seems to be what I'm craving.)

In an ideal world, we'd like to find places that are easily driveable from Cambridge, and that are pleasant and comfortable places to sit without being fancy since I'm not much into dressing up these days. No real dietary restrictions except the pregnancy-related ones (no sushi, deli meats, etc.)

Yesterday I enjoyed a spicy noodle soup at Wagamama but I know we can do better with your help. Thanks in advance hounds!

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  1. Jamaican Jerk Beef at Redbones in Davis Square. beware, as it can be incendiary!

    Any curry dish from Thai Moon.

    5 Replies
    1. re: nasilemak

      I second that one.
      and add: anna's chili verde burrito with jalapenos and hot sauce, no beans.

      1. re: nasilemak

        I concur. Jerk Beef at Redbones is excellent. Singh at Singh's Roti makes an excellent Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce as well.

        1. re: nasilemak

          Chili Garden in Medford Square: order off the Schezuan menu--kung pao chicken (I always ask them to make it w/tofu instead) is a safe bet for non-adventurous spice lovers. SO just had the chicken with mustard and peppers--there were huge chunks of jalapeno, almost inedible but it was so spicy and good :) Mulan in Kendall is fantastic too.

          Porter Square mall--the little kiosk that specializes in noodle soups for spicy brothy goodness

          Le's for noodle soup in Harvard Square--I get the veggie & tofu vermacelli and load it up with Rooster sauce...

          Mike's Pizza in Davis: Hot Spicy Pizza: W/ pepperoni, hot sausages, hot cherry, peppers, sauce and mozzarella--pretty good!

          Namaskar in Davis: Lunch buffet is actually very nicely spiced, not make your nose run...but for a buffet it's great.

          Greek Corner on Mass Ave: get any sandwich and ask for it to be spicy (Rooster sauce) with extra tzatziki -- theirs is the best -- so so garlicky. Or, just the tzatzkiki appetizer with pita...

          good luck!

          1. re: MaineRed

            Love your posts, MaineRed: they make me want to go out and eat somewhere!

            1. re: MaineRed

              Ohh, I meant to say, MaineRed, that I LOVE a Greek Corner gyro with extra tzatziki and hot sauce! (I ususally go the Harvard Sq branch.) Definitely one of the highlights of my pregnancy eating :)

          2. Tiger Tears (Cambodian) at Floating Rock in Revere.

            Fuloon, in Malden, has many great and spicy dishes, lots of threads on the board.

            7 Replies
            1. re: fredid

              Strongly recommend Fuloon. It is easy to get to from Cambridge, parking is ample, and it will be an easy place for an expectant mother to have a great meal- the food is very serious but the atmosphere is relaxed. And I can almost guarantee that if you call ahead and explain the situation and that you want an extra spicey meal to induce labor you will recieve the royal treatment. Dianne is the head hostess/owner and she is fantastic.

              1. re: drbangha

                Fu Loon is fantastic and they certainly can cover a full range of spiciness.

                1. re: ginafly

                  The Steamed Szechuan Beef at FuLoon!

                2. re: drbangha

                  FuLoon really is fabulous - and the people are very nice.

                3. re: fredid

                  Does anyone on Chowhound ever try anything else at Floating Rock other than the Tiger Tears? They're good enough but many of their other dishes are a spice-level above and the Tiger/Hunter Tears (NamTok) at many Thai restaurants is better.

                  Get the Farmer-Style Papaya Salad there. Ask for it genuine and the baby should pop-out by midnight.

                  1. re: teaTomE

                    9Lives and I have ordered the chili pork a few times, and it's always too spicy for me. I dig the crying during the eating, but the after-effects are brutal.

                  2. re: fredid

                    Yes to Fuloon! Went on Thursday and told the great host/owner I like hot/spicy. I have been a few times before, so she believes me :) I ordered "Bean Curd w/ Special Sauce" which is 2 star hot.Delicious! Also had for the 1st time the Kung Pao Shrimp, which was pretty good. Lots of those dried chilies to give it a good kick(as much as you like); but the true butt-kicker was the "Mandarin Cabbage w/ Chili Pepper", a 3 star dish. This IS hot! It was hot when I got it. Yesterday had leftovers and this made the others seem like nothing :) I was sweating all over as I was pulling out the leftovers from the fridge! I am sweating now just thinking about it. Really! I love that concept of mind/body... saw Restaurant owners Myers & Chang there--what a lovely couple!

                  3. The Lunch Buffet at South East Asia in Lowell.. careful some items are too spicy for most. Its only like $7-8.. too.. Best to get there around 11-12 to be sure everything is nice and full/fresh

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: hargau

                      I heartily second Hargau! SEA is THE place - low cost, AYCE (buffet at lunch) which has "Blazing Hot" labels on those dishes which are indeed fiery (even for asian tastes). If that is not hot enough, you can order off the menu and ask the kitchen to make it hotter (but won't it affect the baby though? ...please check with your doctor before you actually take this course).
                      Other than that ..happy crying!

                      1. re: cornFusion

                        Im curious if any of the other offerings on this list are as spicy as the items at South East Asian. I have been to some of the places mentioned but not all, for instance i dont find anything at Sichuan Gourmet Billerica/Framingham to be nearly as spicy and i have tried just about everything on the menu many times. I still love S.G. and eat there about once a week though.

                        1. re: hargau

                          I've been to the Lowell buffet a few times and also recommend it. But of other items mentioned here, that I've eaten, nothing, including SEA, compares to the Redbones jerk beef sandwich I had at their stand at the NERAX festival. That was RED HOT. If they are consistently that hot, I think it is a winner.

                          Ask for "very, very hot" at Punjab in Arlington and they will reward you.

                          1. re: chickendhansak

                            interesting info. thanks I will have to try that. I know many bbq places have hot sauces that are hotter then i can handle and hotter then SEA but for some reason im not a fan of them. For instance even fireflys has a large rack of various sauces many of which are way too hot for me. One they ask you to sign a waiver to use! There is a very different taste/feel for asian spicy vs indian spicy vs mexican spicy vs a$$ in the tub bbq sauce spicy.

                            1. re: hargau

                              IMHO i would agree with hargau. The "indigenous" hot peppers of each region are, to me, quite different in taste and heat. You could probably pick a pepper from each region with the same "heat content" and personally experience various levels of actual heat based on the flavors you perceive in that pepper. My GF for example can eat scalding hot Thai peppers and not flinch, but would be crying with a taste of one of the (relatively) milder Central/South American peppers. I guess what I am trying to say here is that Redbones is in a separate class of heat than say SEA - perhaps another thread is warranted on this topic - with the experts contributing?

                              1. re: cornFusion

                                Well yeah, all peppers have their own flavor and heat profiles (where you tend to notice it, how quickly it comes on/fades, etc), even within the same species. In both cases though, not everyone can appreciate the differences - at a certain point for anyone, things get so hot that they really just can't tell anymore. Look at the Chinense species - a fatalii tastes pretty different than an habanero.

                            2. re: chickendhansak

                              The jerk beef varies pretty heavily, in my experience. It ranges from "hot, but very tasty" to "this tastes like nothing but habanero and is really freaking hot"

                              1. re: jgg13

                                I was there the other day and had it again and it was in the "fairly hot, very tasty" zone. Nothing like as hot as the first time I had it.

                                1. re: chickendhansak

                                  I really prefer it that way. The thing that I like best about jerk in general is all the flavors and the heat, which does'nt always come through at all @ redbones. Still, if one wants "inexpensive, spicy" that's probably a good choice :)

                      2. A few ideas:

                        Chicken curry platter at Punjabi Dhaba.

                        Any curry or rice plate at Rod Dee Thai in Brookline or The Fenway.

                        Bokumbop, yukyejang, or kimchi tchigae at Buk Kyung II in Allston.

                        Mole poblano or tinga at Angela's Cafe in Eastie.

                        Sichuan pork dumplings, Chengdu dry hot chicken and dan dan noodles at Sichuan Gourmet in Brookline and Woburn.

                        Ca kho to (spicy fish) hot pot at Xinh Xinh in Chinatown.

                        Carolina pulled pork at Blue Ribbon BBQ in Arlington.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          Sichuan Gourmet is the one in Framingham & Billerica. Sichuan Garden is the one in Woburn & Brookline (of the four, I've only been to the framingham Gourmet)

                          1. re: jgg13

                            Ah, thanks for the correction. I just got to Garden II for lunch the other day, but think Gourmet is slightly better overall (better dumplings plus fresh bamboo shoots, wow). Both strike me as pretty authentic (without my ever having been to Sichuan province) and kick the crap out of most so-called Sichuan restaurants in town.

                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              Yeah, the Framingham Gourmet I've enjoyed loads more than the stuff directly available to me in town that I've tried, but being carless it's a bit of a pain to get to. I've yet to try the Brookline Garden (reports of inconsistency + some inconvenience + laziness has caused that), although Chili Garden in Medford recently has shown up on my Foodler list, and I also really like their stuff.

                              1. re: jgg13

                                The Brookline SG is a quick T ride from line to Brookline Village..2 min walk.

                                They also have a separate Chinese menu; which a CH translated a few years ago...pig foot (shank) and wenjun prawns are highlights.

                                1. re: 9lives

                                  The last time I went to the Brookline S Garden, the tendon in the Fu Qi Fei Pian (sp?) was practically raw! So awful, I have never returned.

                                  I have only been to S Garden in Woburn once, and I was not pleased when my soup dumplings arrived in a burst state!

                        2. Spicy beef noodle soup at Green Tea in Newton.